Icarus 3

Part3

Entry 1

I’ve decided to keep a diary to document my path to documenting this mysterious “Dark One.” I feel like I’m onto something big here.

My only concern is that I may be getting myself into something too deep. Make no mistake, though, I have no intentions of holding myself back whatsoever. I will prove that he is real if it’s the last thing I do. I hold The M.E.G. dear to my heart. I hold the fantastic life-forms of this domain even dearer.

But in my studies, I have realized exactly how incomprehensible some of these creatures are. My dear friend Blanche has a form that no human can survive looking at. Isle’s hypothetical entity has had a baffling effect on hir mentally, perhaps even physically.

Regardless, the timidness and fear which I have brought from my previous life on Earth remain. I want to piece together The Dark One’s story, even if it seems impossible. First, though, I should probably think of a better name.


Entry 2

It’s been a few days since my last entry, and I’ve discovered something extraordinary. The Dark One appears to have memory-suppressing abilities. Stretch had multiple things blocked out of his mind. I have also discovered a possible name: Icarus. I’m borderline certain that he exists — it’s more unlikely that he doesn’t at this point, despite the very critical yet baseless comments from some lower operatives in the cafeteria at times. They obviously have zero idea what they’re talking about. The purple generator explosion, the dead hound, the memory problems, the rags and tatters left behind, it all points to one source.

Maybe it’s mania, I don’t know. Isle wasn’t happy that I extended my stay in Base Gamma by a few weeks. I feel like it will be worth it, though. The discovery of Blanche has been one of the most beneficial entity-related discoveries to The M.E.G. Her intelligence, knowledge, and kindness have led to the discovery of things such as Level 797. And on a personal level, she has been a very dear friend and mentor of mine.

I’ve seen his creative nature in mediums like art and writing. The life on Level 3 is extraordinarily more intelligent than they should be. The Dark One could be the key to knowledge that the M.E.G. wants and strives to obtain.

Look at me, praising and yearning to meet someone who may not even exist. Day by day I wonder what Kat was thinking. My stubbornness makes up for my lunacy. Maybe I should drink some Almond Water. It’s been a day or two since I have.


Entry 3

I had the strangest dream last night. I woke up 5 minutes ago in a cold sweat. I have to write this down before I forget.

I saw 3 fish swimming through the ocean: a red fish, a purple fish, and a pink fish. They were swimming in unison with each other. It was just that for like a while. I just watched these fish swimming, until suddenly the pink one missed a beat. Their fins were swimming in perfect unison until it finally missed one and fell behind by a few centimeters. The other fish didn’t stop and kept swimming even though the third was falling behind.

Then, the purple fish stopped moving straight and was crooked by a few degrees. Eventually it got closer and closer to the red fish before they collided with each other. The pink one was multiple meters behind by this point. The red fish swerved back and attacked the purple fish. The red and purple fish wrestled until the red one bit the purple one’s fin off. It started to sink below the ocean but not without pulling down the red fish with it. The pink fish finally caught up, but it was too late. The red and purple fish sank too deep.

It tried to swim down and help them but as it descended deeper into the crystal blue ocean, it started to darken into a gross, green color. Algae encumbered the fish from swimming. Eventually, it turned the fish into a statue, covered with the algae. It sunk to the bottom of the ocean. I saw it fall deeper and deeper, eventually hitting the sea floor. Its corpse was extremely far away from the others as the red and purple fish attempted to escape the pressure of the ocean floor. The red fish was crushed and flattened like a pancake. The purple fish’s scales started to peel off one by one, floating to the surface. Its skin slowly tore off from its body, pressing to the floor of the ocean. Eventually it left a charred skeleton, a mere husk of its former beauty.

This has to mean something. The purple fish, the skeleton, the ocean. I’m spiraling trying to understand it. A part of me thinks it may have to do with The Dark One Icarus. Or maybe I really am in over my own head.


Entry 4

I went to a psychologist. I’m glad they have one here at Base Gamma. That dream really messed me up. I showed her my frantic scribbles on the morning I woke up. I didn’t tell her about Icarus yet. If I did, she would’ve either told me to step away for a while or tried to convince me that he isn’t real.

She tried to interpret the dream, but it was all a bunch of nonsense about feeling like I’m not pulling my weight in The M.E.G. Sure, that’s a problem in of itself, but the dream definitely wasn’t some random amalgamation of memories. I just don’t know what the amalgamation is. A prophecy maybe? A vision of some kind? A message? Other than that, though, she was alright. She helped bring me back to my senses, at least. Probably should have sought out a therapist, not a psychologist. I know she’s seemingly educated and all, but her nonsensical advice is not helping me whatsoever. My goal right now is to crack the mystery of Icarus, not work through breathing exercises. I’m still willing to take what I can get, though.


Entry 5

I had another dream. It was the same. exact. thing.

This time it was a wheat field, just like Level 10. There was nothing but the blue sky and infinite wheat. Amidst the wheat field were three bushels of wheat. They were tied together with rubber bands: red, purple, and pink. It happened just like the fish. First, the pink one stops blowing in unison with the others. The purple and red one start hitting each other as they fall out of sync, before the red one accidentally brushes off some of the top of the purple one. Thunder appears out of nowhere, and the whole sky turns dark. It strikes the three bushels of wheat. The red one severs from the ground and is engulfed by the rest of the wheat. The purple one disintegrates into black, crispy ash. The pink one remains intact, but becomes a dead, immobile statue.

It’s definitely not a coincidence. Same story, different details. That psychologist was in over her own head. I’m in over my own head. What is my mind trying to tell me? Is it trying to deter the search? As if I’ll listen. I haven’t been this distraught since I sent that missing team of people to that greyscale purgatory of suffering. Dante was right when he wrote about his seven circles: they’re right down there. Heaven, hell, and purgat

Oh my gosh.

I think I figured it out.


Entry 6

I don’t think I can handle another dream. I didn’t sleep for 2 days after the wheat one. I was so engulfed by research that I forgot to sleep. I finally opened up to a friend about the dreams, but he had the audacity to laugh. He won’t be laughing when I finally figure this out. I was in the middle of researching my sh4dy gr3y lead when I went unconscious.

Three blinking stars in the dark blue galaxy. Red, purple, and pink. Pink one blinks out of unison. Red one has a supernova that disintegrates purple and leaves a ruined red one. The pink one loses its heat from the blast and turns into a dying ember, no longer emitting a significant amount of light. Something, no, someone is trying to tell me something. 3 beings. One attacks the other and dies in the process. The attacked one is disintegrated into nothing. The bystander is affected second-hand and becomes a husk, a statue of its former self.

I looked into my lead regarding Th3 Sh4dy Gr3y, and to my surprise, I’ve found something shocking. The article we had on file has been corrupted. 5Five, 6Six, and 7Seven have different names, and their text has been removed from the file. I don’t know how we didn’t notice this. I tried to revert it, but the file is so badly corrupted, that it won’t let me save any changes. I’m staring at the file right now not sure what to do.

5Five is the only one here that has remnants left to it. 2 paragraphs are still intact. The rest is garbled text that keeps changing. That’s incredible, I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s been renamed to L0ST H0P3. This l33t text almost prevents me from taking it seriously. 6Six is called 2F4R. Ironic. 7Seven is called TH3 3ND. The number 3. It’s everywhere. I’ve got my hell. Now I’ve got to find purgatory and heaven.


Entry 7

I’ve been awake for about 4 days. 96 hours, roughly. That’ll show you for laughing, Mark. I’ve been scrolling the database on my computer looking for the other two. I may have found my second. There’s an enigmatic level we documented a while ago. I wasn’t involved because it seems The M.E.G. collected most of the information from some other group, “Bluesky Telecom” or something. It’s called The Grave. At first, I thought it was too obvious. Purgatory, grave, no way. There’s this detail, though, that leads me to believe otherwise.

A giant sword is poked into the ground like Excalibur. The article says its erosion and archaeological data dates it at over 50,000 years ago. Even more noteworthy, it fell from the sky like a meteor. Fell down to the ocean floor. Sunk to the bottom of the the wheat field. Decayed into a star that insults its former form as it descends into the darkness of space. Apparently it reads something about the Grand Empyrean. A word from Latin and Greek meaning of the sky, most usually associated with gods.

Normally, I would be rushing to tell the Oversight Council and strongly advocating for a research mission, but the only way to enter The Grave is by dying. I think I’ll pass on doing that. Suicide missions aren’t something I nor anyone else are particularly fond of. Regardless, I have two. One to go.


Entry 8

I fell asleep again after I ran out of coffee and energy drinks. I haven’t stayed awake that long since college. I had a fourth dream, of course. It was a little more on the nose this time, though.

It actually took place on Level 3. There were three wires in an electrical room on a table. Can you guess which colors? They were perfectly straight and even until a gust of air from a computer server blew the pink one off the table. It smacked the nearby generator as it fell to the floor. The red and purple wire hit each other, causing both to short circuit. The red one fell off the table from the impact, causing it to flatten from the force of the fall. The purple one received the current, causing its rubber exterior and wires to burn and crisp up. The pink one fell right under a heat exhaust from the generator, causing it to harden up. Despite the very questionable scientific possibilities, it’s the same story once again.

Something else happened, though, that made it weird. After the pink one hardened, I should have woken up. However, at the very end, a flash of purple covered the room before maniacal cackling echoed all around me. The cackling soon turned into crying, then bloodcurdling screams. I turned around at the very end and saw a black shadow before I woke up. So close, but so far.


Entry 9

Restocked on energy drinks and coffee. I need my heaven, but I can’t find it. It’s a bit difficult to think right now about anything that isn’t Icarus related. I really should sleep more, but I’m so close to something huge. I’ve been in Base Gamma for about 2-3 weeks now like some kind of hermit. Heaven, hell, purgatory. Great existential food for thought when you’ve gotten a good 15 or so hours of sleep over the span of 2 weeks.

I looked more into th3 sh4dy gr3y and the grave to find any more possible connections to Icarus. I also scrolled through the entity database looking for entities that match the description of “champion” and “grand empyrean,” and I may have found something. Unlike Icarus, I have absolutely no proof for their connection, but The Red Knight seems like a likely candidate. Although, now that I think about it, one of the objects in the dreams has always been red. I’ll look more into him later. First, I need to find the box so I can figure out how the jigsaw fits together. With enough rags and tatters, I can sew together the broken quilt.

I’ve considered returning to Level 11 to see Isle again. I’m unsure, though. As much as I miss hir, ze’s just gonna try to convince me to stop, just like everyone else. I’m so tired of all these people trying to tell me I’m on a wild goose chase. My dream is to get to the point where I can meet Icarus, but I don’t know if that will be possible. I am quite an optimist, but there’s a very stark difference between optimism and ludicrously extreme idealism. Summoning The Red Knight appears to occur by pure chance and luck, and the risks are far too lethal and extreme. I just hope I’m not running myself into a corner. Even if I do, though, I think I’d rather break through the wall than take any steps backwards.


Entry 10

It’s been about 2 weeks since my last entry. I haven’t been able to find anything on heaven. I emailed Isle to explain where I’ve been. Apparently ze’s had hir own mission ze’s been working on since I’ve been away. Ze’s been considering returning to 404 again despite what the last trip did to hir. I advised against it, but ze told me ze’s so close to proving the existence of Entity Null. I know the feeling. Since I kind of hit a dead end, I started compiling my current evidence into an article. After some consideration, I’m planning to return to 11 in a few days to try and talk Isle out of returning. I also am getting a little homesick, to be honest. For an entity that makes you forget him, Icarus has been the only thing on my mind for almost 2 months now. I’ve shifted focus to the article, but I’m still trying to look for heaven here. Isle’s gonna send me hir WIP articles for 404 and Gaius soon for criticism. I’ll write back when I’m home again.


Entry 11
No No No No No No No Why Why Why Why Why Why Why

Isle is de gone. Ze’s gone. I came back to Level 11 to see hir and convince her to stay, but I was too late. I just got the call from Kat in my Base Beta office. She is a dirty, lying traitor. She let hir leave for that place like I told her not to. I told her it was stupid, but nobody ever listens to me. She should have never let such a high value individual go on such a stupid mission! Losing Gavriel was hard enough, but her idiocy has KILLED MY BEST FRIEND! I don’t understand why Isle did such a foolish thing. Why I did such a foolish thing.

The article for 404 was posted right before ze left. I need to reread it. I gave it critique a few days ago, but I need to make sure I know what’s going on. I have to go to find hir. I know it’s stupid, but I can’t leave hir to die. I can bring her back. I have to. Kat won’t lift a finger to help Isle, so I know that the only way to save her is by taking matters into my own hands. Icarus is finally not what I’m thinking about right now, and it’s in the worst possible circumstances. Gosh, my handwriting is horrible right now. I can’t see through these tears.


Entry 12

It’s 404. Heaven. It’s 404. I found it. Th3 sh4dy gr3y is hell, The grave is purgatory, and 404 is heaven. I ran into a corner when the article was completely corrupted, but I cannot let hir die. I don’t know know how to get there, so I have to take matters into my own hands.

An old Hermes device is kept in a lab here in Base Beta. Under normal circumstances, I would never use such an abominable, disgusting device. However, I have been left Kat has left me with no choice. The final piece to the puzzle is 404. Isle’s life is on the line in 404.

This may be my final entry. I don’t know if I’ll come out of this alive. I just have to try. Real friends don’t leave friends to die, Kat.

I’m sorry for what I’m about to do.

I’m in too deep to stop.


Eden shuts her diary and puts it in her purse, sobbing profusely. She grabs a pillow and screams into it at the top of her lungs with pure rage and anger. It’s been a half hour since Kat’s call. She changes out of her traditional Japanese clothing into more inconspicuous attire. She grabs every possible weapon she can, preparing as much as possible for her mission. She disguises herself with a hood and mask and exits her office.

“Forgive me for what I’m about to do, God,” Eden whispered to herself as she ran down the hallway. She ascended up the stairs into sections of the spiraling tower that were only available to high level officials such as herself. She entered into the 2nd highest floor of the building, with the top floor being the meeting place of the Oversight Council: inaccessible to her.

“Where is it?!” she growls, running through the office-like hallways looking for the lab where dangerous and extremely extraordinary items are studied, such as the immoral Hermes Device of the U.E.C. After what felt like an eternity of tears and heartache as moral dilemmas and pain rushed through Eden’s conflicted, enraged, sleep-deprived mind, she finally reached the lab door. She places her clearance card to the door. Access granted.

She walks into a dark room, dimly lit only by the various glowing objects and chemicals. Eden turns on a flashlight to search through the endless labyrinth of confusion, wiping her tears every few seconds. She turns the corner of the dark room before finding a table with a black box on the top. She shines her flashlight to inspect it, finding an inscription. “Confiscated Hermes Prototype.” She opened the box and gasped when it was empty.

“No, no, no, no, no, no, no!” she whispers, looking everywhere around the table.

“Looking for this, dearie?” A crackly, throaty, maniacal voice mutters behind her. She turns around and sees nothing.

“If you’re here to stop me, Kat, it’s not going to work. You are nothing to me anymore.”

“Kat. Hm, history really does like to repeat itself, doesn’t it?” The voice chuckles. “I’ve seen this exact thing play out before. 3 exist in harmony. 1 deviates from the group. The other 2 are torn apart in the chaos, and the deviating bystander is left a husk of their mere self. Look at what’s happening to you, dearie.” Eden gasped when she realized what he was referring to.

“Icarus,” she mutters in disbelief. Eden shielded her eyes as a purple light brightened the dark room.

“You really are a clever girl.” From the purple light emerged a black flame resembling a cloak. Beneath the cloak were two glowing eyes that shined purple. Hands of nothing but black, crispy bone held a jar with a brain attached to a small tube. “In all my years of wretched existence, or lack thereof, nobody has ever come so close to the truth, save for you. I had no plans of ever directly talking to you until I saw you going against all that you hold dear just to throw it all away. Your drive, passion, and dedication is admirable, nay enviable. Yet, here you stand, prepared to die if it means finishing your mission. Now, I normally wouldn’t involve myself in such trivial, dramatic affairs, as you’ll all be dead in what feels like mere moments to me, however I can’t seem understand. Why would you do such a drastic thing?”

Eden didn’t know what to say. She had fantasized about this moment for months. It was finally occurring. “My friend did something stupid, and a once companion of mine allowed to happen. Now I have to chase after hir.”

Icarus cackled maniacally, echoing throughout the room. “My my, you’re a spitting image of me. Icarus Procidens! The fallen angel of death and suffering. Forever trapped in a fiery furnace of my own torment, forced to wander this realm via this apparition. My once incomprehensible pulchritude, thrown away for selfish ‘twue love’!” Icarus scoffed in a mocking manner. “It’s all happening just like all those eternities ago, this time anew with your friend. It’s poetic, really.”

“Please, don’t make this harder than it already is. I’ve already made my decision. If you’re here to change it, it won’t work. I have to do this,” Eden snarled.

“Dearie, no one is obligated to do anything. I didn’t have to come here — do you know how exhausting projecting my apparition up here is? You didn’t have to develop an addiction to researching me. Your little friend didn’t have to go to the fragmented paradise you have designated as “Level 404.” It’s not a matter of obligation, rather volition. What one is willing to do, how far they’re willing to go, and how many moral boundaries and values they are willing to breach: in layman’s terms, what one could do. I could smash this on the ground right now.”

“No!”

“I could obliterate the entire room, thyself included, with a thought. I could prevent you from making the same exact mistake I made by sending you away from here to another level. Perhaps I could turn your legs into butterflies. Paralyze you permanently. Wipe every memory relating to myself. I was weak and cowardly. I had insufficient volition to fight for what I loved. When fate stared me in the eyes, I let it pluck them right out of my skull. After all, you are more like me than you know. Your compassion for the creatures of this world is admirable. I, of anyone else, should know. If that is lost, then a part of this world will die.”

“What are you trying to accomplish with all this?”

“Well, frankly, I have lost any ability to fully care for anything. Not for you, not for the people of this domain, nor for your wayward friend. Thus, I am offering you a choice.” Icarus sets down the jar on the table. “Either return with me and make amends with your friend before it’s too late and history repeats, doing what you think you should do. Likewise, you can ignore everything I have just said and pursue ‘The Great Perhaps’ as François Rabelais said he would according to a book I retrieved from a corpse in the mono yellow labyrinth. Pursue the idealistic hope that humans will know everything in order to find your friend and the final piece to the puzzle you have managed to piece together, then surely die, fulfilling destiny and redefining the boundaries of what you could do.”

Eden wiped the tears from her face for the seemingly millionth time and took a deep breath of rage before hearing loud knocks on the lab door. They pleaded with her to open the door. Various M.E.G. operatives, likely sent by Overseer B to bring her to her senses. Eden looked back up at the dark creature as it looked down at her.

“You are a god. You know the answer. What is the right path?”

“That god died long ago, and there exists no such thing, dearie. There is only what you could do and likewise what you feel as if you should. These will play hand-in-hand as you make your decision. Is your life worth more than your friend’s? Or is your curiosity what will finally kill the cat?” The door banging became louder as they attempted to ram the door in.

The operatives rammed the door off of its hinges, but before they could explore the room, they levitated to the air. Icarus did not even look as the people floated, holding their necks. With his now freed hand, he placed his boney finger on one of their arms. In an instant, each person shook violently as their bodies all turned to black dust, leaving only their skeletons to rattle to the floor as their now slender corpses slipped from the chains to the ground.

“More are coming. Time is dwindling. Choices, choices, aren’t they delightful?” Icarus giggled like a little imp, turning back to Eden with a toothy smile. Eden bent over to a nearby trash can and threw up, horrified from seeing such a gruesome scene and emotionally overwhelmed by the weight of this decision. Icarus cackled like a maniac, taunting her further.

“Choices are some of the worst things that can happen to a man. One mistake can cause him eternal regret, anguish, and sorrow. The thought of ‘if only’ plagues his mind, constantly bombarding him with fantasies of what could have occurred, had things gone differently. The wonder when his decisions will catch up to him will eat at his mind until he finally loses control. All the power in the world, but still too little to do the one worthwhile thing you wish it could provide.” Eden lifted her head from the trash can and grabbed the with her hand, wielding the hose at the top with her hand. She popped off the cap with her finger, revealing a small blade covered in memory juice.

“I understand the weight of choices, imp. History doesn’t always repeat itself. This is the only way,” Eden whispered. She grasped the blade firmly while holding the jar. One final tear fell down her cheek as Icarus watched ominously behind her. She sliced the blade across the wall, opening a blue rift. Eden held the blade in the wall as the rift opened wider and wider. Her hair flew up and down as her mask was blown off and her hood was blown down by it. The brain inside began to swell as the memory juice began to bubble. She fell backward from the impact as the wall began to distort and fragment into a glitchy amalgamation.

She turned one final time to Icarus. He lowered his hood to reveal his burned, charred skull. A tear fell from his glowing eyes as he gazed at Heaven once again. The place where The Angel, Augustus, he died. It fell to the ground, causing the carpet to singe as it did so as if the tear was acid.

“It is done, then. You have chosen the path of naïveté,” Icarus whispered. “So be it, Eden Gardenhigh.” Icarus wiped his eye-socket as he began snickering, then cackling. Eden stood up, placing the jar on the table. She stepped into the rift and took one last look at the room.

“Goodbye, Icarus.”

“Perhaps Gudang wasn’t the only one as naïve as Augustus and Claudius,” Icarus whispered, saying the forgotten names for the first time in eternities. Eden gasped, hearing said names before the rift closed.

“Rest in peace be the world we once lived in; for lo, it has now forsaken us.” A new group of operatives run into the room, but it was too late. One of the operatives shined their flashlight on the ground, seeing nothing but singed carpet and the Hermes device. Icarus and Eden were gone.


Final Entry

I did what I could, not what I should.

All is clear to me now. I met 卂ᑌقǗ ƚꙅ ยˢ . The puzzle is complete, and it’s horrible in the most perfect way. All I have to do is find Isle.

My mind is breaking. I must resist the temptation of this beautifully imperfect world.

The desire to carve out memories,

It’s haunting me.

It’s breaking me.

It’s fragmenting me.

I realize now that I was chasing a story long dead. A tale which had ended eons ago. One forgotten.

And the cruel, twisted irony is that I was too stubborn to listen. To hear the warnings. Regret. Anguish. Sorrow.

If nothing else, it has opened my eyes to the truth of the Great Perhaps: what François was looking for. Not beautiful nor hideous, but broken. Irreparable. Dolor.

Fate truly has the cruelest humor of all. That only leaves one thing left for me to do.

I won’t stop until I find you, my dearly fragmented.

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